The Board of The Waterberg Trust met this week to review projects being supported in the Waterberg region of South Africa.
One of the Trustees, who had just returned from a visit, was able to report that Sister Grace has been busy looking after people’s health and welfare in schools and the wider community. One of her objectives is to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, which take girls out of school and entrench poverty.
The Knitting Club have been busy producing the most beautiful blankets, hats and shawls, providing comfort for the very young and very old in the Waterberg. Sister Grace distributes these while making home visits when she can check that patients are taking their medication and have enough to eat.
Thanks to our supporters’ kind donations, The Waterberg Trust continues to work in partnership with St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative to help those in need through the pandemic.
Volunteers help purchase and pack food parcels for about fifty individuals within family groups.
These are collected from outside the local super market by friends or relatives of the needy. Local farmers donate food.
Food for the school nutrition project is being supplemented with vegetables grown in school veggie gardens by the Environmental Clubs.
TWT has set up a ‘Dignity Dreams Club’ to raise funds to purchase eco-packs of washable sanitary pads for every girl entering secondary education. This is an important, low-cost initiative that gives girls confidence and means they do not miss lessons. Some were taking absence from school for five days a month.
The pads come with a book for teachers and are distributed with a structured sex-education talk about puberty. TWT is aiming to provide 400 packs a year at a cost of £15 each. The pads are carefully made by Dignity Dreams, a non-profit organization in Pretoria who provide work for the disadvantaged. They last four years. If you would like to help by making a small donation, please click here
Did you know that the majority of secondary school girls in the Waterberg can miss a week’s education every month? Can you imagine what this means to their future life chances?
The reason? They lack sanitary protection. You can change this. For just £15 a girl will receive 6 re-suable Dignitary Dreams sanitary pads with two pairs of pants that will last them for 5 years. This is an educational game-changer, ending shame and improving self-esteem for vulnerable teenagers.
It’s simple, it makes an immediate difference, and has a lifelong benefit.
Can you help?
The Waterberg Trust aims to provide all girls in secondary schools of the Waterberg with an eco-friendly pack of Dignity Dreams reusable sanitary protection.
Please join the Dignity Dreams Club and commit to an annual donation of £15 (or more) in order to provide a girl with sanitary protection.
Students are given a talk on puberty and how to use the pads before they are distributed. It is a good opportunity for them to ask questions and learn how to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
The NGO Dignity Dreams issue a book for teachers to use, helping them to give engaging talks on puberty and the female reproductive system in line with the curriculum. There is also an instruction leaflet in in pack.
There are six pads in each pack, designed for washing with Sunlight soap in cold water, rinsed in salty water and dried in hot sun. They are made by outworkers for Dignity Dreams, which is a not-for-profit employment scheme running in Pretoria. In effect, you’d be supporting two charities at once.
The girls like the design of the pink and green stripped underpants that come in the packs. One pad is equivalent to 144 disposable pads. They say they are both helpful and durable.
The Waterberg Trust first distributed Dignity Dreams pads in January 2019 thanks to sponsorship from TWT donors and Environmental Impact Management Services who kindly brought a speaker up from Pretoria. You can read about how we equipped 210 girls here.
Secondary schools in the Waterberg have an annual intake of 460 girls. This year, we have managed to equip 145 girls entering one of the schools. We need another 315 packs as soon as possible. If you could help with a few it would be hugely appreciated. The girls and their parents are truly grateful.
The total number of girls in the secondary schools of the Waterberg is 948. To help them all we need to purchase another 593 pads. At a cost of £15 for a pack (+courier charges) our aim is to raise £8,895 for this project.
Nursing Sister Grace writes, “I worked with the Social Development team, making home visits and registering those in need of social support, while helping those who are eligible to apply for the Social Relief Distress Grant (SRD). Many people were successfully registered and will be able to receive the grant as planned by the Government. Foreign nationals who have valid identification passports were also registered. During the registration process the Department of Social Development handed out food parcels to identified families and those with passports. Political leaders also distributed clothes, blankets and sanitary pads to the community.”
I REFERRED 25 UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE TO REGISTER FOR A SOCIAL RELIEF GRANT WHICH WAS SUCCESSFUL AND 15 WILL RECEIVE MONTHLY FOOD PARCELS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
SCHOOL CHILDREN CONTINUE TO ACCESS DAILY MEALS FROM THE SCHOOL FEEDING SCHEMES
“Employment opportunities were created in our municipality. Members of the community, including youth, were hired by the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) to work in different allocated sectors. This helps many families receive an income. More informal traders are selling farm produce and other items. Some families have vegetable gardens on their premises, which help to generate income and supplement meals.”
Essential supplies and costs have increased, which leads to many families running out of food before the month end.
Dysfunctional families don’t buy food for their dependents in spite of having an income.
An elderly man, the uncle of a mentally ill beneficiary who is under our monthly care and support, was physically beaten and injured by his son. The matter was reported to the local police for further investigation.
Alcohol consumption is a huge problem. Some people buy alcohol rather than food.
Increase in teenage pregnancy
FOOD PARCELS WERE DISTRIBUTED TO 58 INDIVIDUALS IDENTIFIED AS NEEDY
BENEFICIARIES PACK THEIR OWN FOOD PARCELS. THOSE WHO CAN’T REACH THE SUPERMARKET HAVE THEIRS DELIVERED BY VOLUNTEERS
We continue to knit blankets, jerseys and shawls, which are distributed to those in need. A big thank you to the dedicated ladies who do the knitting. Wool is purchased with money kindly donated by supporters.
Sister Grace says, “I reached out to the community and encouraged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The number of those receiving the vaccine has been amazing for both adults and youth. The local clinic keeps me posted on the availability of vaccines. I stress the importance of taking treatment for chronic conditions, as prescribed and educate family members on health, basic hygiene and access to contraceptives for teenagers.”
Donations, however modest, are hugely appreciated. Funds are spent very carefully. If you would like to help support the poor in the Waterberg, please click here
Sister Grace reports, ‘It has been a challenging time.’ Tighter Lockdown regulations were imposed on South Africa in June 2021 to reduce the risk of Corvid 19 spreading, however the vulnerable and terminally ill continue to need special care and support.
You can watch President Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on 15th June 221 here:
CHALLENGES encountered in Vaalwater in July 2021:
Our Community has seen an increase in substance and drug addiction amongst the youth. Boys below the age of 20 have been found injecting drugs using the same syringe and needles. They looked violent. (The Police were informed and are currently monitoring the situation)
Increase in community theft has been reported
Some children have never been to school and keep wandering around, begging money.
Essential food supplies prices went up in July due to violent attacks in some parts of South Africa, which resulted in stock shortages.
Some beneficiaries have become dependent on receiving food parcels and do not want to work nor do piece jobs to earn income
Gender based violence occurs in some families due to lack of income and employment
Orphaned children lack parental care and support
Social gatherings and alcohol sales continue without adhering to Corvid 19 protocols
Sister Grace has been able to visit the needy and supply relevant needs.
Some members of the community have been offered short-termemployment within the town and surrounding lodges
School children are back at school and able to access meals from the feeding scheme program
The Social Relief Grant has been extended to help the unemployed to provide for their families
The Department of Social Development continues to provide food parcels to those registered in their system.
The Waterberg Trust aims to fill the gap by helping vulnerable people without papers who Social Services can not help.
Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust reports that, ‘Substance abuse is becoming a serious problem. We will have to work on a local solution, but that is easier said than done!’
There are many different ways in which you could help or become involved. If you would like to find out how you can make a donation to The Waterberg Trust, please click here
We will continue to provide food parcels and donated items to those in need, conducting routine assessments, home visits and health education.
Sister Grace works with the local clinic, the South African Police, Social Development, local churches and community leaders to ensure TWT is well informed and the needy can access support.
Food parcels are being distributed in the Waterberg to support 113 needy people. Dr Peter Farrant says, “It is a busy time as temperatures are dropping significantly and winter is imposing herself!”
Sister Grace writes to say: I continued my routine home visits to identify new beneficiaries, checking up on previous ones and teaching basic health education to families and their children. This includes preventive measures to curtail the spread of the common cold, regular hand washing and the importance of wearing masks when in public places. I noticed that many people are ignorant about the need to wear masks when interacting with others.
-Sister Grace in the Waterberg-
Some beneficiaries have found employment while others have relocated to their families. Those with valid documentation were referred to the Social Development for continuity of food parcel support.
I managed to locate the Mozambican family who are related to the mentally disabled person who stands by the roadside near Build- It hardware shop. I referred this matter to the Social Worker and the Police Victim Support unit but it is taking too long to get him transferred to hospital for proper psychological assessment and treatment. A concerted effort is being made to take the man to the local district hospital using the SAPS. The plan is to manage his mental illness and provide shelter.
CHALLENGES: I came across 2 teenage mothers who had family disputes with their parents. They were left without food for days. I managed to conduct family meetings and distributed food parcels to the children. They are continuing to attend school. One girl is in grade 10 at Meetsethehla School, aged 17 years, the other in grade 12 at Lesideng High School, aged 18 years.
–We equip some learners without parents with school uniform–
Some Youths are under the influence of alcohol and substance abuse even at school which leads them to scholastic and learning failure and in the community to theft and gender-based violence.
I found it difficult to locate those needy families living in informal settlements as the addresses are not properly indicated, however those with phone contacts were able to be assisted.
Many foreign residents on chronic medication had poor adherence due to lack of understanding and the language barrier as they could not speak the local language nor English. I involved local caregivers who could translate and explain clearly.
– FAMILY MEMBERS COLLECT FOOD PARCELS ON BEHALF OF THEIR SICK RELATIVES –
PROGRESS: School children have access to meals on daily basis and are attending school.
Social Workers and religious groups help distribute food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable.
Community members have been offered temporary employment within the community and private sector which enables them to supply their families.
To continue reaching out to the vulnerable and provide needed support i.e. food parcels, nutritional supplements, clothing warm blankets and psychosocial counselling.
The need for shelter for the homeless was discussed at an Elders meeting. The plan is to improve our existing shelter and to manage it more effectively. It is important to ensure that it is used for limited periods per person, so that it is not occupied permanently, as is the case at present.
Thirty families in need of support in the Waterberg are being visited to ensure they have enough food and essential supplies. Education on basic hygiene measures is also offered. We are helping two child-headed families, some who are chronically ill, a man badly bitten by a dog, women with small children left with no means of support, an old woman with no ID card and many other needy cases.
120 individuals benefited in November and 94 in December 2020
TWT aims to support those who do not receive any social grant money, who are unemployed with no source of income or support, and are in urgent need of help. Those already on the Social Development system have been handed over to a social worker who has provided 18 families with food parcels donated by Shambala Game Reserve.
Nurse Grace works with Choppies supermarket and volunteers from St John’s Church who help to pack food parcels and deliver them to the elderly and those who can’t reach the supermarket due health issues.
We have been able to help those in crisis: thieves broke into one man’s house, stealing all his groceries whilst he was at a funeral. Another man had a fire at his house and needed clothes for his six children.
If you would like to make a donation to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 Appeal to assist the needy, please click here.
Progress! School children attending school benefit from the feeding scheme program Those receiving grants are able to buy essential supplies for the family.
Some people are back at work while others now sell produce at the local market Job opportunities for local community members in various sectors are emerging.
SCHOOL UNIFORM was bought for a boy from a dysfunctional family who now has counseling.
Current Challenges: Increase in food prices. Some families arrive late or find it difficult to collect the food. Four children below the age of 10 are being neglected by their mother due alcohol. The issue has been handed over to social development for intervention. 5 families were abusing social grants. The cases were reported to the social worker. Some people are becoming dependent on food parcels and do not want to work.
House break-ins and stealing within the community is worrisome with young boys involved in stealing from their parents. Huge families are unable to feed their dependents. Re-opening of taverns contributes to insecurity and unnecessary expenditure. This results in many drunken people leaving no food for their family.
Poor living conditions in informal settlements with poor sanitation and no water. Youth hang around quiet streets where they smoke, drink alcohol and abuse substances. Cases of gender-based violence resulting in physical injury and assault needed to be reported to the Police station. One men was severely injured and needed to be taken to hospital. Teenage pregnancies remain a challenge.
Routine screening of all learners continues to take place before they enter school premises, when temperatures are checked and a register is signed. We ensure pupils are wearing proper uniform and are not carrying any items that can cause danger to other learners. This gives the school nurse an opportunity to identify learners who hide their pregnancy.
All staff members and any guests are also screened to ensure preventative measures are adhered to. Motivational speakers came from different political parties, the Department of Education, private companies and religious leaders who came to motivate learners during this hard time and to encourage them to study so they can achieve their dreams.
This was the last academic term for all schools in South Africa, with final examinations for grade 12’s. All other grades continued to attend in a phased manner, on weekly rotation, writing tests to enable them progress to the next grade.
Earlier in the year, Grade 12 learners in the Waterberg district attended a 10-day preparatory camp, run by the Department of Education, to prepare them for final examinations.
Schooling continued without interruptions or problems.
Grade 12’s wrote their examinations successfully.
Social media communication with parents from certain schools helps circulate info, using a WhatsApp group and a Facebook page.
Media learning (through TV and radio) helps learners to study whilst at home.
Extra classes were provided for learners to ensure they catch up from where they lacked with teachers willing to help.
Regular visits and monitoring of teachers by the Department of Education has ensured they are maintaining teaching standards.
The assistant agent Josias also helped the grade 12 on how to apply for University bursaries with the required information needed. This gave learners more courage and strength for the upcoming final examination.
CHALLENGES encountered from September to December 2020
Stress and anxiety cases are seen in learners due to pressure of studying for long hours together with a lot of schoolwork and assignments to be completed.
I encountered two cases of teenage girls attempting suicide, one due to family issues and the other in denial to her positive HIV test from the clinic. Counselling sessions were conducted and will continue during the one-week holiday through home visits.
Learners who are abusing drugs are finding it hard to cope with study as they are tired, feel weak and lack concentration.
Some over-age learners are stuck in the junior phase. e.g. A 21-year-old still in grade 8 continues to come to school without progressing. The grandmother who is her carer refuses to allow her to go to a special school. There are several in this category. I plan to address this matter with the School Governing Body (SGB) and School Management Team (SMT) .
Gender-based violence has increased among learners due to petty issues. Those found guilty go to a disciplinary hearing.
Some pregnant learners are hiding pregnancies until a late stage and the policy regarding return to school after delivery is not being followed. I plan to raise this matter with the SGB and SMT.
There is no internet access from the nursing office, therefore, I receive messages late and am unable to communicate with stakeholders on time when invited for meetings, other events or to send reports. The solution has been to provide monthly data.
Challenges due to Covid-19
Some learners remove their masks when in class and some forget them at home.
No physical activities for learners to keep them busy due to the Corvid restrictions e.g. Sports, gardening and athletics
Little ones from Primary Schools are not coping with wearing of masks and need close assistance.
Some learners are not coping with the phasing of school attendance programme, requiring them to stay at home during rotational schedules.
Some learners dropped out of school and are staying at home and some engaged in bad behavioural acts like drinking alcohol and substance abuse and domestic violence.
STATISTICS for September-October when 95 learners were consulted individually:
Medical issues: 25 (Asthmatic, Epilepsy, Dental Abscess, depression, and HIV, Poor Vision and ear infections)
Social Issues: 45 (family problems, lack of support, No food at home and no proper clothes, suicidal attempts, self-stigma, depression
Substance Abuse: 10 (5 from Meetsetshehla and 3 school-dropouts and 2 from Leseding High School)
Counselling: 15 (HIV & Stigma, dangers of substance abuse, teenage pregnancy & how to deal with depression)
Pregnant: 6 (3 Meetsetshehla Secondary School & 3 from Leseding High School)
STATISTICS for November-December when 100 learners were consulted individually:
Medical Issues: 25 (Herpes Zoster, HIV/STI, Dog bite, Asthma, Epilepsy, Visual Impairment)
Social Issues: 35 (Substance abuse, Family issues, no food at home, poor living conditions and lack of parental support)
Counselling: 25 (Depression, HIV Adherence and prevention, Contraception benefits and side effects, ways for substance and alcohol withdrawal Syndrome)
Pregnant: 8 (5 Meetsetshehla and 3 Leseding High Schools)
Minor Issues: 7 (Menstrual issues, Headaches and dizziness)
NOTE: During final term number of learners who consulted were less as they don’t come to school every day when writing exams, they are given time to study at home before writing.
To continue supporting learners who are faced with various challenges
We hope to cooperate with a local pastor to establish a drug rehabilitation centre in Vaalwater, which will benefit many youths who are struggling with addiction.
If you would like to sponsor school children by providing school shoes or washable sanitary pads, please click here
Since Covid-19 shut down the South African tourist industry in March, The Waterberg Trust has partnered with St John’s Church at 24 Rivers to make up food parcels for those needing help.
The project is overseen by NET’s nurse, Grace Ismail, who is sponsored by TWT. She has continued to meet with volunteers from the church, once a month, to purchase food from Chequers supermarket in Vaalwater, where it can be collected by the recipients.
By following up this distribution with home visits, Grace ensures that funds raised by The Waterberg Trust’s Covid-19 Appeal, and kind donations made locally, go to families who are struggling, including a teenage mum with twins and those unemployed due to Lockdown.
All previous beneficiaries have been visited. We found some have been able to return to work, others have received social relief grants, and some have been given retrenchment packages. New beneficiaries have been identified and assessed to confirm their status.
FOOD PARCEL DONATIONS:
Shambala Game Reserve, a local donor, requested a list of beneficiaries that needed food parcels. This list was given to social workers for re-assessment. Beneficiaries with no passport or South African identification book could not be assisted due to lack documentation. From the list of 20 beneficiaries, social workers distributed to 8 families. We assisted the rest.
The Department of Social Development does not provide food parcels for people without identification as they need to register beneficiaries in their system.
Some families abuse social grant money intended for buying food, using it for gambling and alcohol purchases instead.
Child-headed households without parents lack proper care and social support.
Dysfunctional families who neglect their children often provide little or no support.
Loss of employment and lack of income to support a family.
Gender-based violence continues in many households leading to physical injury and damage to property.
School children can be seen on the streets of the township at inappropriate times. Some abuse alcohol and drugs instead of studying at home.
Some beneficiaries returned to work, but did not notify us as they still want to receive food parcels. This is why reassessment of each family needs to be conducted regularly.
Stakeholders have been helpful in supporting the community with food, clothing and shelter for the less privileged. These include the Social Development Services, private organizations (eg Shambala Game Reserve), individuals and religious or faith-based groups within the community. This is encouraging as we can work together.
Schools have reopened and many learners have access to food provided by the school’s feeding scheme programme to ensure pupils get a meal and are able to concentrate in class.
We will continue to distribute food parcels from the supermarket as it is convenient and a central point for beneficiaries.
We will continue liaising with stakeholders to avoid duplication of food parcel distribution.
We will continue to visit homes and families as required.
Thanks to our generous supporters, emergency food parcel distribution in the Waterberg has continued every month. Nurse Grace has conducted an assessment on how this is going, conducting home visits to beneficiaries. These are her photos and finding for the month of July 2020. We will be able to provide an update for activities in August soon.
Some recipients have managed to find a source of income or work and received a UIF payment to enable them to buy groceries for their family. Others still have no source of income or only work on certain days of the week when they are paid according to the hours worked. New beneficiaries have been identified including teenage mothers who depend on the child social grant.
Kind donations were received in the form of clothes, sanitary pads and bedding, for which acknowledgements and thank you messages have been sent. These came from individuals, St John’s church members and The Fold children’s home. Those in need were grateful.
This enabled bedding and kitchen utensils were donated to a homeless, elderly man who has no family and no known identity.
Knitted blankets were also distributed thanks to kind donated wool for the knitting club ladies.
CHALLENGES faced in the township of Leseding:
People spend money on alcohol instead of buying food for their families.
School children roaming the streets – some get involved in crime and physical violence.
Child-headed homes with no parents to guide nor provide.
Patients with poor adherence due to lack of food and family support.
Foreign nationals with no identity nor family.
An expectancy of receiving food parcels regardless of employment.
However, many needy adults and children are benefiting enormously. More food parcels will be purchased when new list of beneficiaries is ready. If you wold like to make a donation to help provide for the poor, please click here.
Schools in South Africa re-opened today, bringing a number of challenges in the light of Covid-19.
Nurse Grace has written to say, “I have been busy preparing schools, to ensure classrooms are cleaned and sanitised, also to plan the screening area for learners.” Masks are obligatory for all – by law.
Ever since schools in South Africa closed in March due to shielding, Sister Grace has been helping pupils with their studies at home. “I am attending to issues and challenges presented by learners. I have been in contact with the social development services to seek help for problems in the community.”
-Home schooling in the Waterberg –
Thanks to over fifty kind donors in the UK, who responded to The Waterberg Trust Covid-19 emergency appeal, Grace has been co-coordinating the procurement and distribution of food parcels to the needy, working with volunteers from St John’s Church ‘Acts of Mercy’ initiative. You can read more about this here.
-Nurse Grace purchasing groceries for food parcel donation-
Grace writes: “The next purchase will second week of June.” If you would like to help with the purchase of food parcels by making a donation, however small, please click here for The Waterberg Trust’s Justgiving site or here to send a cheque.
Winter is on its way, with clear sunny days but temperatures dropping radically at night. “I have been handling clothes to the community which are donated by Horizon and Bulls Eye”. She has also been distributing knitted blankets. “My targets are school children and vulnerable elderly.”
Grace has now returned to work in the schools of the Waterberg, including Meetsetshehla Secondary School, where she is based. If you would like to read more about her work, please click here.